Three puzzles in hierarchical evolution.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The maximum degree of hierarchical structure of organisms has risen over the history of life, notably in three transitions: the origin of the eukaryotic cell from symbiotic associations of prokaryotes; the emergence of the first multicellular individuals from clones of eukaryotic cells; and the origin of the first individuated colonies from associations of multicellular organisms. The trend is obvious in the fossil record, but documenting it using a high-resolution hierarchy scale reveals three puzzles: 1) the rate of origin of new levels accelerates, at least until the early Phanerozoic; 2) after that, the trend may slow or even stop; and 3) levels may sometimes arise out of order. The three puzzles and their implications are discussed; a possible explanation is offered for the first.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McShea, DW; Changizi, MA

Published Date

  • February 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 43 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 74 - 81

PubMed ID

  • 21680411

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-7023

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1540-7063

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/icb/43.1.74


  • eng